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    Description

    Joshua Reynolds (British, 1723-1792)
    Portrait of Master William Cavendish, standing astride a black dog, in a landscape
    Oil on canvas
    50 x 40 inches (127 x 101.6 cm)

    PROVENANCE:
    The sitter;
    Lord Chesham of Latimer, Chesham, Buckinghamshire, by descent from the above;
    Knoedler & Co., London, acquired from the above, 1922;
    Private collection, acquired from the above, circa 1938;
    Private collection, by descent from the above;
    Sotheby's, New York, June 5, 2008, lot 88;
    Acquired by the present owner from the above.

    EXHIBITION:
    Agnew's Galleries, London, 1904, no. 12 (lent by Lord Chesham);
    M. Knoedler & Co. Inc., London, "A Loan Exhibition of English XVIIIth Century Portraits of Children," April 24-May 23, 1931, no. 15;
    Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, "Exhibition of Eighteenth Century English Painting in Honor of Professor Chauncey B. Tinker of Yale," May 5-19, 1930, no. 70 (on loan from Knoedler's);
    Union League Club, New York, "Exhibition of Paintings of the 18th Century School," February 10-19, 1933, no. 19;
    Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, "Tentoonstelling van Oude Kunst," 1936, no. 129;
    Washington Gallery, February 1938.

    LITERATURE:
    T. Taylor and C.R. Leslie, Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds with Notices of Some of his Contemporaries, Vol. II, London, 1865, p. 468;
    F. G. Stephens, English Children as Painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds, London, 1884, p. 75;
    Sir W. Armstrong, Sir Joshua Reynolds, First President of the Royal Academy, London, 1900, p. 199;
    A. Graves and W. V. Cronin, A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A., London, 1899, Vol. I, p. 160;
    E.K. Waterhouse, Reynolds, London, 1941, p. 76;
    D. Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds, A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings, Vol. I, London, 2000, p. 127, cat. no. 338, p. 599, vol. II, p. 539, fig. 1429.

    ENGRAVED:
    S.W. Reynolds (and other eminent engravers), Engravings from the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A., Vol. III, n.p., no. 20.

    Although Sir Joshua Reynolds' resplendent portraits of fashionable London society won the artist considerable fame and recognition, his endearing portraits of children are widely regarded among his most brilliant accomplishments. Reynolds' uncanny aptitude for capturing the innocent candor of childhood is clearly visible in the present portrait, in which the young child, William Cavendish, stares so inscrutably at the viewer while seated playfully astride his pet dog. Curiously, his stare is hard to read. Is that because we are no longer children, have lost our own innocence, and tend to overly scrutinize everything in a search of a narrative? The composition is very much in keeping with contemporary views on sensibility and the emotions of the heart: the viewer cannot help but feel a tender regard for the young boy who is playing, yet seems to have frozen in front of us, as though his fantasy has been interrupted.

    This fascinating portrait was painted in 1784, the same year that young William's aunt Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, sat to Reynolds with her infant daughter Lady Georgiana Cavendish, resulting in the justly famous painting of maternal affection now in the Devonshire collection at Chatsworth. Play rests at the heart of that painting as well, as the little girl lifts her arms in a gesture of joy and abandon as encouraged by her mother. There's a sense in both paintings that childhood is a precious time, precious in part because it, and all its magic, is so fleeting.

    The sitter of the present work, William Cavendish (1783-1812), was the eldest son of Lord George Cavendish, later Lord Burlington, and Lady Elizabeth Compton. He was elected Member of Parliament for Knaresborough in 1804 and then for Derby in 1806 which he represented until his tragic early death at the age of 29 when he was flung from his curricle on his way back from a shooting excursion. His eldest son William (1808-1891) succeeded as the 7th Duke of Devonshire.






    Condition Report*: Glue-lined canvas; under UV light, there is a heavy discolored varnish overall that makes restoration difficult to discern; however, there appears to be at least two periods of restoration; most recent, two small spots of inpaint at top edge; the older areas of restoration are scattered areas throughout the background and foreground, some possibly to address craquelure; the face has been selectively cleaned around the eyes in the past; under raking light, extensive craquelure stabilized in the relining with very small scattered flecks of paint loss near the edges of the work and in dog; a disjointed 3 inch line of abrasion above figure's head; minor frame abrasion along left edge and canvas is slightly slack.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2016
    7th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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